Sunday, November 04, 2018

Contain yerself!

I can remember when cargo ships were unloaded "by hand."

Many dock workers converged on a ship that tied up and huge nets lifted break bulk material stacked on pallets from the hold of the ship.

Very labor intensive.

Cranes hoisted the filled nets into the air and.....
I don't remember what happened next.

I guess the material was placed in trucks and they drove away.
It was a LOT of work and it took many union longshoremen to load and unload a ship.
  •  Break bulk cargo is typically material stacked on pallets and lifted into and out of the hold of a vessel by cranes on the dock or aboard the ship itself.  
  • The volume of break bulk cargo has declined dramatically worldwide as containerization has grown. 


Today we are used to seeing container ships coming in and out of our harbor.

But, the reality is it is too costly to ship empty containers back to where they came from so they tend to stack up.
Hmm, maybe there is another use for them?

Local celebrity Bill Murray and his partners envisioned a concept of cutting in windows and doors and using them as "rooms" for a business.

Say, a Container Bar where food trucks are invited to come, hook up and serve a variety of foods at the unique neighborhood bar.

The food trucks now have an answer to where do you sit down to eat the food that's just been plated and handed to you.

Standing with food in one hand and a beverage in the other would not be a problem here.

Adding a bar, outdoor and indoor seating and some A-C spaces would round out the amenities.

I have no idea if the costs were very different using these pre-fabricated "buildings" as opposed to building from the ground up, but it is indeed different!

A business likes to stand out and this qualifies.

Instead of aging stacked metal units that would slowly rust sitting outdoors in a large lot, creating an eyesore,  Murray and his partners carved out a new neighborhood destination around the corner from their successful Rutledge Cab Company restaurant.

I kept an eye on the proposed opening and stopped by a week after it opened its steel doors and was warmly welcomed by a young and talented staff.

Good thing that I did because several weeks later, my daughter and her spouse came to visit from Oakland, California.

I was pleased with their reactions when we stopped by for a beverage.

We took advantage of an authentic "Italian" pizza from a parked food truck so explored all of the Container Bar's possibilities.

My daughter remarked that the food truck owner was literally on the phone with his Mom in Italy when we ordered.

He later stopped by to see how we liked his pizza.

He added that his Mom told him she liked the phone call but it was very early in Italy when he called home.

He quickly promised he would watch the time difference in the future. Ciao!

(Click on the link and photos for more details.)

Do yourself a favor and check out this new addition to the local food and beverage scene.

Now that the heat has simmered down a bit, both the outdoor and indoor seating will add to the enjoyment.

Something new in the neighborhood!



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Sunday, October 28, 2018

NOT a pedestrian crossing!

For the second time in a month, my drive home in Hanahan was interrupted by a passing freight train.

"Passing" would have been ok, but it slowed, then slowed more and finally lurched and shuddered to a complete stop and stood still.

It was totally blocking the Remount Road crossing in North Charleston.

Traffic backed up as motorists waited to see if it would be a short wait.

Some people on foot - and a few on bikes - also shuffled and stood around while waiting to see how much of a delay it would be.

Several weeks ago, a freight train had come to a stop a little after 4 pm at this same crossing and cars backed up all the way out onto Rivers Avenue and almost to North Rhett on the other side.

I knew Fire Station #3 is on the other side of the stoped train and hoped they were not called to respond to an alarm on the Rivers Avenue side of the tracks. They were not.

But I did see several people, obviously not willing to just stand around indefinitely, actually get down on hands and knees and crawl beneath the stopped freight cars and scamper away on the other side.

 YIKES! How insane!

I actually wished that I had my camera with me instead of just my phone cam. I wanted to record this dangerous insanity to alert officials!

Yesterday, also a few minutes after four, a long slow freight had stopped and I was second in line as we waited to see how long we would be stuck there waiting.

Dang, it was another 20-25 minute wait.

Patience was running thin and the car in front of me roughly pulled a U-turn and headed back toward Rivers Avenue.

I also saw pedestrians were moving closer to the stopped cars.

Uh, oh, here's where it gets crazy again!

Ah, but this time I had my camera with me.

A young lady appeared, stepped gingerly across the couplers between two cars, hopped down on my side of the train and continued on her way.

Others started climbing up on the couplers, stepped across and dropped down on the other side.

Their wait was over and yet, the train still just sat there as motorists fumed and motors were turned off.

More cars were pulling out of line behind me seeking an alternative to just sitting in stopped traffic but at least this time I did not see anybody crouching down to crawl beneath the stationary gravel-filled freight cars.

It started to look like a CARTA bus situation as bikes were hoisted on shoulders and the riders attempted to climb up between the cars.

They dropped down on the other side, away from my view, and pedaled away.

Some bikers were helped with their rides and other did it alone.

The train sat perfectly still for 15-20 minutes.

I guess these walkers - and bikers -  were confident they had conquered and overcome an obstacle in a "safe and prudent" way.

I disagree, but, at least I did not have any bloody photos of people being injured due to a series of bad decisions.

Bad planning by the railroad for blocking a major highway so long - and so often  - during a high traffic time.

And totally insane activity by impatient pedestrians who are lucky nobody was thrown off the freight car couplers and seriously injured.

Or had fallen under the massive wheels!

I hope this is not going to be a 4:00 pm daily event on Remount Road.

Fire engines and ambulances were totally blocked the entire time the train was stopped.

Who is monitoring this?


I hope this blog will call attention to a serious situation that should not be allowed to continue.

I showed one photo to a friend who laughed and said: "People have been hopping freights ever since railroads began."

These people were not "hitching a ride." They were just feeling inconvenienced by the stopped train that was blocking their path.

They took a serious chance of being injured.

Or killed.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Please forward it to any officials you feel should be aware this is happening. More than once! Thanks!







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Friday, October 26, 2018

I'm really wired....

So, I have a neat little exercise room downstairs in my dad's old workshop.

His huge shop fan is pushed in front of the open double doors to suck in a torrent of cooling wind when I am doing my 3x or 4x a week exercise routines.

The shop is not air-conditioned and summer temps make it a challenge to head down there.

Lots of sweat as I do about an hour of strenuous routines on the machines.

I am really serious about my diet, my weight and muscle tone.

My doctor was concerned about a slight rise in my blood sugar and sent me to see a dietician, a delightful nurse at East Cooper Hospital.

She explained I could continue to eat most of my favorite foods but less frequently and in smaller portions.

Well, there is more to it than that.

The new emphasis is on fruits and vegetables. "good" fats, protein and  less "empty calories."

Fortunately, I had several cans of salmon which are high in what I need and I enjoy making a spinach salad with a boiled egg and chopped tomatoes.

My "gym" is set up so I can stream Netflix and Amazon Prime movies to watch on a tv monitor as I do 30-minutes on the treadmill.

I don't "run" but do a steady walk at 3 mph for a half hour.

I can gradually increase the "incline" of the machine to add more stimulation and actually spend a shorter time walking.

The images on the tv make the time pass faster and I recently signed up again to have Netflix send me several DVDs a month.

 These would add some of the newer action films, ideal for exercise time.

BUT, I did not set up a VCR to watch them.

I had a small screen DVD/CD player and tried using it. but "small" was not a great solution.

AHAH! My laptop has a nice size screen but was a low-end machine and lacked a built-in  DVD player.

A quick trip to Wal-Mart and I came home with what I thought was an external DVD player.

Hmmm, it seemed to be missing a connecting cable.

Rather than going out again to buy a cable with a USB on each end, I rummaged through an old - but massive - collection of cables and connectors I had stored downstairs.

Wow, there were cables here not needed for over a decade.

All had been bought when required but later assigned to the rubbish bin.

Well, actually in an old piece of soft luggage.

I pulled up a chair and started untangling cords and putting similar ones in small stacks.

Amazing how many different power sources had accumulated.

I found some that were difficult to even recall what they powered!

Well, the search was not fruitful. These all were pre-USB and useless for this project.

I went online and specified I wanted an external DVD/CD player to attach to a laptop. Amazon came through with a unit that included an attached  USB cable and cost half of what I had just paid for the unit I am returning to Wal-Mart.

An interesting journey down memory lane when items changed quickly and old methods were replaced with newer versions.

Uh, that is STILL happening!


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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Django Reinhardt Gypsy Jazz..


Last Tuesday night - in the midst of grave concern about approaching Hurricane Florence - the Charleston Music Hall rewarded those of us  who stuck around and ignored the Mandatory Evacuation.

And well we DID stay in town and went to the Django Reinhardt Review show on John Street.

Or, I should say, Rue de Jean, for it was a French Gypsy Jazz sort of evening featuring hours of music and fun starring the Stephane Wrembel Band.

Fastest hands I've ever seen.

While technically it's true that both of us OWN guitars, mine sits collecting dust.

Stephane really PLAYS his... and at a frantic pace!

The bass player was local and had worked with Stephane so he sat in for the bassist who could not make it.

I am a real fan of the music of Django Reinhardt so it was a very satisfying evening even as thoughts of the approaching storm were in my head.

The other guitarist and Stephane alternated, one strumming a rapid background while the other 's fingers flew all over the strings!

They played well together - and have done so for years -  and each had their solo moments.

The drummer used brushes most of the evening and provided a solid backing.

A comforting thought as we entered the Music Hall was a spectacular and non-threatening sunset and colorful cloud formations.

Later, when we were spared the damaging winds and excessive rain and flooding just a few miles to the north of us in Georgetown, I was glad the band decided to venture here.

Two other events had canceled and have been rescheduled at the popular downtown venue.

Dates are put on the calendar many, many months in advance.

Mother Nature has ample opportunity to disregard all the careful planning and bend us to her will.

Fortunately, it was an "All's well that ends well" evening.




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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A jaunt down Memory Lane..


























Danny "The Eskimo" Tichonchuk was a nice guy and welcomed me to the San Diego Union and Tribune Photo Lab with helpful hints. 
He encouraged me to "hang in there" when I was hired and assigned to the tiny Wirephoto Room (still going to school) where I could do course reading after I turned the lights back on.

I often would read during the 7-minutes it took for an AP photo to be transmitted then I would turn off the overhead light, flip on the reddish-yellow "safe light," open the machine, take out the newly-exposed photo paper, wrap a new sheet around the drum, close the machine and then process the one just received in the trays of developer and fixer. Then it would wash for 10 minutes or so after I turned the white light on again.

This was time to "hit the books" again before the cycle repeated itself. And it did over and over as I was privileged to be seeing the BEST examples of news-worthy photography. 

When the prints were properly washed, I would drain them and take them down the short hallway to dry them on the glossy dryer so they would have the shiny finish necessary for use in the paper.

We really didn't worry about extended washing for long-lasting archival quality. These were news photos shot by AP professionals from around the world, and were discarded at the end of the day.

The Photo Editor would have seen the facsimile thin paper copy and alert me when he was really interested in a shot.

Sometimes I got a LOT of reading done for school and other times, not so much "white light."

Stan Griffin started a few of us in Wire photo so we could see these professional images and learn a thing or two about how to be a winner with our camera. Stan knew what he was doing!
   
After about 6 months I "graduated" to the large room where multiple prints and enlargements were made for the CNS, Copley News Service, working with Al Sund.

Shortly thereafter, I was paired in a small darkroom with Thane McIntosh and went out on my first assignment as a staff photographer for the San Diego Union and the Evening Tribune.

I started this during my sophomore year then took a break from college for four years to concentrate on being a news photographer. I got married, had two children and DID return to USD for my final two years and got my BA in English/Journalism in 1968. 

Stan encouraged me to complete my education and he and Charlie Sick arranged for me to work weekends and split days off when I went back to school.

I never did make the cover of TIME Magazine but I DID graduate in 1968 so I did a bit of manual cut-and-paste to have me featured.

In 1964, my full page in its sister publication LIFE, was for real.

I had snapped two shots of a sign I saw carved in an apple orchard while flying back from shooting aerials of surfers.

The paper turned it down (?) so I offered it to the national magazine. It was the Miscellany Page and I got a byline...and a $300 check.

After I graduated and had my BA in English and Journalism, I wanted to apply to the paper's Copley Training program and move over to the writing side of newspapering.

Stan Griffin broke the bad news to me.

After so many years as a staff photographer, my pay grade was much higher than the entry level for the writing/reporter slot. To use my newly-received diploma, I would have to take a cut in pay.

Instead, I started looking around and got hired as a Researcher by the CBS Cronkite Morning News. A new direction for my career in news.

Here are some miscellaneous views of me in the 1960s:














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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A "Training" update

 More than a year ago, I was dropping a buddy off to catch a train at the Amtrak station in North Charleston.

We both remarked how tired the station looked.

Not a great first image of the Holy City.

But, good news was in the works. Ground had been broken for the long-awaited new station.

 Even better, it was designed to be a multiple transportation hub.

Not only trains but also buses, airport shuttles and - hopefully - quick bus rides to downtown and Summerville.

Most cities have a quick and relatively inexpensive link between downtown and its airport.

Cabs have been the only choice I am aware of right now. Maybe Uber or Lyft too?

The new modern transportation hub should be a welcome change when it opens around the first of the year.

A staffer in the station said rains had slowed progress but they had been told they probably would pack up and move to the new station January or February.

The existing building then would be torn down and be part of a new larger parking lot.

The day I stopped by last month, there was plenty of construction activity.

Drainage ditches were being dug and it looked like interior work on the new building would commence now that the outside was nearing completion.

With staff permission, I walked out on the present loading area to snap some views.

Part of the overhead shelter had been removed and you could see where the new roof would extend in front of the new station.

Scaffolding was still in place as finishing exterior touches were being done.

I liked the flow of the design and included a copy of the printed elevation on display in the existing depot.

One thing I doubt will be seen in the new facility would be the once-familiar telephone booths.

The adjacent waiting room already had two empty spots where the pay phones used to be.

Progress now has most people carrying a phone in their pocket ...along with some quarters that used to feed these Ma Bell devices.

I recall when it was only a nickel! Or maybe I saw nickels being pushed into the coin slot in old movies. and conversations with an operator.
Black and white movies, of course.

Thanks for hitching a ride as I explore the near future of rail service in Charleston.

My Mom grew up in Yemassee and she and her 3 sisters would wander down to the train depot there to watch trains arrive.

Especially when a new batch of young Marine recruits were detraining. and boarding buses to take them to nearby Parris Island.

Oh, Mom!

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)




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